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I'm dipping my hands in your TILL.

Around this time of year, we see a lot of "X days 'til Christmas" signs, which drives me crazy. I've brought it up before, and I know as a linguist I'm not supposed to have language-usage pet peeves at all, but we all have them anyway and I can't resist saying it one more time:

It's not 'TIL. It's TILL.


I've fought nearly every editor I've ever had on this. I know, I know, the spelling of words changes with the times, and maybe my side will lose this battle. But I must try, for I dislike introducing punctuation into words when it isn't necessary. And don't give me that argument about how "till" also means (verb) "plow the land" or (noun) "cash register," because those are never going to be confused with a preposition in daily usage.

In the meantime...

If TILL was good enough for C.S. Lewis, it's good enough for you.

Oh yes, I'm ornery today. Look out. (But, all the same, happy holidays!)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Um, my dictionary says they're both right?

But really, I'm with you. People who write "alright" deserve to have their toe hair infested with lice.
Dec. 19th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
The dictionary's job is to *report* usage more than rule upon it, so yeah, several of them now do report that " 'til" is in common usage. Which it is. As long as people don't *correct* my use of "till," I suppose I can live with the variant.

I wince a bit at "alright" too, and would not allow an editor to stick it into my own works if they dared try. But I'm trying not to judge others for it too much, since I sense we're losing that battle. Oh well; if "already" is okay, I suppose, once again, I can live with it.
Dec. 19th, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
Richard Strauss agrees with you!

Dec. 19th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
And it's apparently also a Germanic first name. Cool. :)
Dec. 19th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
As far as I have always read, both are good. My problem is when the sign reads: "X days til Christmas"! Because til isn't a word. LOL.
Dec. 19th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
I thought " 'til " was a perfectly correct usage contracting the word "until."

And I don't think I've ever seen "till" used that way. Clearly I don't read a lot of C. S. Lewis!
Dec. 19th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
If you do the looking-up, you find that "till" actually pre-dates "until." "Until" was formed by sticking "un" (old prefix meaning "up") and "till" together. So "till" isn't a shortened form of "until"--"until" is a lengthened form of "till"!

It's one of those words that's all over the place once you start noticing it.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )